BHG Group (STO:BHG) Could Easily Take On More Debt

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 01, 2021
OM:BHG
Source: Shutterstock

Some say volatility, rather than debt, is the best way to think about risk as an investor, but Warren Buffett famously said that 'Volatility is far from synonymous with risk.' So it might be obvious that you need to consider debt, when you think about how risky any given stock is, because too much debt can sink a company. Importantly, BHG Group AB (publ) (STO:BHG) does carry debt. But the more important question is: how much risk is that debt creating?

When Is Debt A Problem?

Debt and other liabilities become risky for a business when it cannot easily fulfill those obligations, either with free cash flow or by raising capital at an attractive price. In the worst case scenario, a company can go bankrupt if it cannot pay its creditors. While that is not too common, we often do see indebted companies permanently diluting shareholders because lenders force them to raise capital at a distressed price. Of course, debt can be an important tool in businesses, particularly capital heavy businesses. When we think about a company's use of debt, we first look at cash and debt together.

Check out our latest analysis for BHG Group

How Much Debt Does BHG Group Carry?

The image below, which you can click on for greater detail, shows that at March 2021 BHG Group had debt of kr3.48b, up from kr1.51b in one year. On the flip side, it has kr1.93b in cash leading to net debt of about kr1.54b.

debt-equity-history-analysis
OM:BHG Debt to Equity History July 1st 2021

How Strong Is BHG Group's Balance Sheet?

The latest balance sheet data shows that BHG Group had liabilities of kr2.22b due within a year, and liabilities of kr4.12b falling due after that. Offsetting these obligations, it had cash of kr1.93b as well as receivables valued at kr422.5m due within 12 months. So its liabilities outweigh the sum of its cash and (near-term) receivables by kr3.98b.

Given BHG Group has a market capitalization of kr19.9b, it's hard to believe these liabilities pose much threat. Having said that, it's clear that we should continue to monitor its balance sheet, lest it change for the worse.

In order to size up a company's debt relative to its earnings, we calculate its net debt divided by its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) divided by its interest expense (its interest cover). This way, we consider both the absolute quantum of the debt, as well as the interest rates paid on it.

We'd say that BHG Group's moderate net debt to EBITDA ratio ( being 1.9), indicates prudence when it comes to debt. And its strong interest cover of 15.6 times, makes us even more comfortable. Pleasingly, BHG Group is growing its EBIT faster than former Australian PM Bob Hawke downs a yard glass, boasting a 136% gain in the last twelve months. When analysing debt levels, the balance sheet is the obvious place to start. But ultimately the future profitability of the business will decide if BHG Group can strengthen its balance sheet over time. So if you want to see what the professionals think, you might find this free report on analyst profit forecasts to be interesting.

Finally, a company can only pay off debt with cold hard cash, not accounting profits. So we always check how much of that EBIT is translated into free cash flow. Happily for any shareholders, BHG Group actually produced more free cash flow than EBIT over the last three years. That sort of strong cash generation warms our hearts like a puppy in a bumblebee suit.

Our View

Happily, BHG Group's impressive interest cover implies it has the upper hand on its debt. And that's just the beginning of the good news since its conversion of EBIT to free cash flow is also very heartening. Considering this range of factors, it seems to us that BHG Group is quite prudent with its debt, and the risks seem well managed. So the balance sheet looks pretty healthy, to us. The balance sheet is clearly the area to focus on when you are analysing debt. But ultimately, every company can contain risks that exist outside of the balance sheet. To that end, you should be aware of the 2 warning signs we've spotted with BHG Group .

At the end of the day, it's often better to focus on companies that are free from net debt. You can access our special list of such companies (all with a track record of profit growth). It's free.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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Simply Wall St is focused on providing unbiased, high-quality research coverage on every listed company in the world. Our research team consists of data scientists and multiple equity analysts with over two decades worth of financial markets experience between them.